Do You Speak My Language?

June 8, 2016 Anita Henderson

misunderstand2I was almost in tears, laughing as my husband placed the order my sister had texted me.

“Give me a grande triple skinny caramel macchiato with nine pumps of sugar-free vanilla syrup, upside down,” he said into the drive-thru speaker, glancing at me sideways as if embarrassed.

“Did I just order coffee or dessert?” he asked with a chuckle.

Thankfully, the barista on the other end knew what the order meant; he spoke this language. My husband, on the other hand, felt as if he might have just ordered something completely awkward or perverse.

What might we have delivered to my sister if the barista hadn’t known how to interpret the order?

Think about that as you write your book. How much of the content and concepts are written in industry jargon versus regular language? Many well-meaning, savvy, intellectual authors go wrong with their books by including a plethora of jargon unfit for their target reader.

Sure, you want readers to see you as a knowledgeable expert. But you don’t want to use language that’s so technical readers find it difficult to follow.

Avoid the trap of industry-speak overload with these tips:

  • Clearly define your ideal reader. If his profile doesn’t include having advanced knowledge of your book’s topic, scale down the lingo. 
  • Enlist beta readers who represent your ideal reader. Ask if they fully understand all concepts and words shared in your book. If any concepts are confusing, rewrite them using simpler language. 
  • Define complex words or teach points. Don’t expect readers to have to figure out what you mean by that word. Don’t force them to tap the dictionary or thesaurus on their e-reader, or scour a technical manual to uncover the meaning of your concept.

In a nutshell: Keep It Simple, Sweetheart (K.I.S.S).

Using intellectual language is great. Incorporating technical terms is sometimes necessary. Adding industry jargon can demonstrate your expertise. But keep it to a minimum if you want to keep readers engaged until the end of your fabulous book.

Need help? Let’s get together.

Anita HendersonAnita Henderson helps entrepreneurs and executives enhance their platforms, and build their brands by becoming published authors. Through her  Write Your Life program, new authors overcome the struggles of writing, publishing, and marketing books, and learn to leverage their books to achieve success.

Anita is the author of three books, including Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life And The Book You’ve Been Wanting to Write; and co-author of five books including Write Books That Sell Now and Building a Business, Building a Life: Incredible Stories of Women Entrepreneurs. She owns The Write Image, a boutique book publishing services company that created the proprietary Write Your Life book production process. Her freelance articles have appeared in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. 

Anita Henderson

Writer, storyteller, The Author's Midwife. Founder of Write Your Life and The Genealogist's Writing Room.

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